The aptly titled GATE SWINGS finds the Texas roots music legend harking back to the big band blues/jazz hybrids popular in the late 1940s. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's own work from the '40s and '50s (see the Rounder reissue THE ORIGINAL PEACOCK RECORDINGS) was heavily influenced by these styles. His deft, inventive guitar work, bluesy vocals, and astonishing ability to harness the goosebump-inducing power of an R&B big band are as evident on this 1997 release as they were some 50 years earlier.
The opener, "Midnight Hour," is a remake of his 1954 original, and gets things cooking with a loping groove powered by the gargantuan sound of his 17-piece ensemble. Songs that have long been part of Brown's live repertoire, including classics like "Take The A Train" and Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation," are mixed in among brilliant Brown originals like "Bits and Pieces" and the funky "Gate's Blues Waltz," featuring fine tenor and alto sax solos from Tony Dagradi and Eric Demmer, respectively. Even after over half a century in the business, the Gate is still churning out lively, musically astonishing efforts that swing harder than anything around.